James Michael Tyler, the actor best known for playing Central Perk’s sarcastic coffee shop owner Gunther on the the hit NBC sitcom Friends, has revealed he’s fighting stage 4 prostate cancer. The actor appeared on the Today Show to discuss his initial diagnosis in 2018, saying that because he didn’t catch the cancer early, it spread more rapidly than usual. During the pandemic, the actor became paralyzed from the waist down due to tumors that grew on his spine. Said Tyler: “For my specific prognoses… it’s stage 4. Late-stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”

Tyler’s illness kept him from appearing in person at the recent Friends reunion, however he did appear on Zoom.  Said Tyler: “I wanted to be a part of that, and initially I was going to be on the stage, at least, with them, and be able to take part in all the festivities. It was bittersweet, honestly. I was very happy to be included. It was my decision not to be a part of that physically and make an appearance on Zoom, basically, because I didn’t wanna bring a downer on it, you know? I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.’”

The actor is currently undergoing chemotherapy, and said he was speaking out about his diagnosis to urge people to listen to their doctors and get tested as often and early as possible.  Tyler said emotionally: “My goal this past year was to see my 59th birthday. I did that. My goal now is to help at least save one life.”

Editorial credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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